Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 10 March 2014
Perfectly acceptable voyeurism
Nobody in the South of England needs me to tell them what a glorious day it was yesterday, as we visited the only part of Bristol not to have been bombed flat in WW2, (they left the best bit) Clifton - on a massive rocky gorge defensively overlooking the stretch of tidal water where all those African slaves got their first glimpse of their new lives in a strange world.
That tower is sited at the top of the high plateau where an Iron Age hill-fort used to be, and was converted into a camera obscura by an artist who rented it out in - I think - the 1920s, at the same time as digging a tunnel through the solid rock to a massive cave overlooking the river, 250 feet below.
It is a strange thing - made stranger by the fine weather outside - that people should actually want to pay to climb up to a dark room in a high tower, just so they can peer at a gloomy image of the world outside which they could actually see in march sharper detail without the use of lenses and mirrors.
It is voyeurism taken to the level of an art-form, and I could easily have spent many more hours up there, swivelling the apparatus through 360 degrees and taking an almost unhealthy interest in strolling couples, dog-walkers and passing cars, were it not for the young boy who I graciously allowed to take the role of censor and editor. He laughed uncontrollably each time he spotted his aunt and uncle sitting on a bench outside, soaking up the sun.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge as unseen by the man who designed it - Isambard Kingdom Brunel - because not only was the camera obscura not there when he was alive, but the bridge wasn't completed until 6 years after his death. I think that if you name your child 'Kingdom', then you must expect great things of him.
You have to be careful how you conduct yourself on the Clifton Downs. Someone maybe watching you...